Amy Laura Cahn

Former Staff Attorney; Former Director of Garden Justice Legal Initiative

Amy Laura Cahn is a former staff attorney with the Law Center, and its former director of the Garden Justice Legal Initiative.

Ms. Cahn’s involvement with the Law Center began while she was a Law student at the University of Pennsylvania. She produced “Pennhurst: the Road to Civil Rights for people with disabilities,” a documentary on the Pennhurst State School and Hospital and its closing, a landmark case for the Law Center. In her time as a student, she also founded Penn’s Environmental Law Project, which enables students to engage in environmental legal advocacy and policy analysis. Ms. Cahn has worked with Equality Advocated Pennsylvania, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Environmental Justice Project, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and Advocates for Environmental Human Rights.

Ms. Cahn served as a law clerk to the Honorable Michael M. Baylson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and as a law clerk to the Honorable Stephen Skillman of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division. She has also worked with the community organizing departments of the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Pratt Area Community Council (Brooklyn). As the recipient of a prestigious Skadden Fellowship, Ms. Cahn joined the Law Center full time in 2011 to found and direct the Garden Justice Legal Initiative. She provides legal and advocacy support to community gardens and farms in historically disinvested communities, and works to create new sources for healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate food.

While Ms. Cahn has written numerous publications, one of her most influential was a community-based study she co-authored on childhood lead paint poisoning that helped overturn New York City’s lead laws. She was a founding collective member of Bluestockings Women’s Bookstore in New York City, a volunteer-run bookstore and community space committed to fostering the voices of and empowering women and people of transgender experience. Ms. Cahn currently serves as co-chair of the Bread and Roses Community Fund board of directors and chair of the Mayor’s Food Policy Advisory Council vacant land subcommittee. She is a board member of the Neighborhood Gardens Trust and advisory board member of 596 Acres (Brooklyn) and Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative (New Orleans).